Mueller? Mueller? Cubs Coaching Staff Coming Into Focus

Multiple outlets confirmed the Sun-Times report that the front office is looking to hire Bill Mueller to be the Cubs’ new hitting coach. Mueller would be one of possible two hitting coaches on Rick Renteria’s staff.

The front office knows they cannot miss on what will be the team’s third hitting coach in three seasons. Mueller has mainly been working in the Dodgers’ front office since he retired. Mueller served as a special assistant to GM Ned Colletti before replacing Eddie Murray on an interim basis as the Dodgers’ hitting coach in 2007. Mueller finished out the season as Los Angeles’ hitting coach then returned to the front office. Mueller was a full-time pro scout for the Dodgers last year.

Bill Mueller would figure to be on the same page with the front office, and correct a communication problem that reportedly existed between Dale Sveum, James Rowson, Rob Deer and management last season.

The Coaching Staff

Chris Bosio and assistant pitching coach/bullpen coach Lester Strode will be returning to the Cubs staff. Reports have suggested Bosio has already signed a two-year contract. Mike Borzello is also expected back.

Comcast SportsNet shot down reports that A.J. Hinch is in the mix for the Cubs’ bench coach job and it is unclear at this point who Rick Renteria and the front office could be looking at to fill the position.

Mariano Duncan appears to be in the running for a big league coaching position, but it would not be as the primary hitting coach. Duncan could be in line for a promotion due to the work he put in as Daytona’s hitting coach last season. Duncan spent a majority of the final month of the season with the Cubs. And coincidentally, Starlin Castro had his second best month of the year and showed signs of the old Starlin Castro at the plate.

Gary Jones and Bruce Fields could serve as base coaches and Jose Castro is thought to be a candidate for a coaching job. Jones has been a minor league infield coordinator for the Padres while Fields has been a hitting coach and a minor league hitting coordinator in the Tigers’ system.

Alex Cora and Henry Blanco are reportedly possibilities for coaching positions as well.

The Cubs are expected to announce Rick Renteria’s staff in the next week to ten days.

Mark DeRosa

Former Cubs’ utility-man Mark DeRosa announced his retirement from baseball on Tuesday further fueling the speculation he could replace Keith Moreland in the Cubs’ radio booth. DeRosa walked away from the last year of his contract with the Blue Jays that would have paid him $750,000.

DeRosa was mentioned, along with seven other former Cubs, as a possibility to be the color analyst on 720 WGN alongside Pat Hughes.

Todd Hollandsworth might be the most viable candidate of the list of former Cubs, but don’t count out WGN hiring Andy Masur to help Hughes call the games.

Pat Hughes was scheduled to meet with WGN Radio sports director Dave Eanet, and others, on Tuesday to discuss the next hire.

Off-Season Additions

The Cubs are looking to add pitching, pitching and more pitching this winter. According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs are trying to fill multiple needs this off-season. The Cubs are believed to be looking for a catcher, an outfielder, a starting pitcher and a potential closer.

Masahiro Tanaka and the New Posting Rules

The Cubs will be in the process for Masahiro Tanaka when he is posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles. The posting fee figures to reach record numbers for Tanaka just to negotiate a contract with him.

Ken Davidoff reported the new posting rules should be announced “shortly” on Tuesday. Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball “have virtually agreed to the new system.” According to Davidoff, “the system has been tweaked so the team posting the top bid will still win exclusive negotiating rights to the player, but now the actual price will be an average of the top two bids.” Davidoff added “the agreement is a tradeoff for both sides.”

There is a growing concern about Masahiro Tanaka’s long-term health. Tanaka was used heavily during the Golden Eagles post-season run to the Japan Series Championship. Tanaka threw four complete games in five post season starts, plus made two relief appearances. Tanaka closed out the final game after throwing 160 pitches the day before.

The Yankees and Dodgers are seen as the frontrunners to place the highest bid for Tanaka. The Cubs and Diamondbacks will also be in the process, but not the Rangers. Texas’ GM, Jon Daniels said on Tuesday that his team would not be in on either Tanaka or Matt Garza this winter.

Christian Villanueva and Arismendy Alcantara

Two of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system received another post-season award on Tuesday. Christian Villanueva and Arismendy Alcantara were named to the Minor League Baseball and Topps Company Double-A All-Star team.

Baseball America recently ranked Arismendy Alcantara as the seventh best prospect in the Cubs’ system. Christian Villanueva is the best defensive infielder in the Cubs’ system and will be ranked in the top 20 on prospect rankings this winter.

BBWAA Awards

The NL and AL Manager of the Year Awards were announced on Tuesday. The Pirates’ Clint Hurdle took home the NL honor while the Indians’ Terry Francona topped his former pitching coach, John Farrell, for the AL award. Next up on the award schedule is NL and AL Cy Young awards on Wednesday. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Detroit’s Max Scherzer are expected to be runaway winners for the annual pitching awards.

News, Notes and More Rumors

From the not-going-to-happen rumor mill, Rotoworld picked up a report from Mets Blog that the Cubs are interested in signing OF Curtis Granderson. The Yankees made a qualifying offer to Granderson, which he turned down. Granderson is a good player and could very well end up on the South Side, but not with the Cubs. Granderson turns 33 in March and will not only cost the Cubs a draft pick but also the slot money connected to the pick. The Cubs’ first round pick is protected. Signing Granderson would go against the plan Theo Epstein has laid out countless times.

According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the Red Sox did not deny the Cubs permission to speak with Torey Lovullo.

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